The following text is a presentation made by participants of the Sic journal in Athens
The theory of the abolition of capital as the theory of the production of communism – communisation. How will the revolution be produced as communisation? In the progress of its revindicative struggles it will attack specifically the means of production as such, that is their role as means of production (as for example workers in Bangladesh are doing as they demand their wages; we can think the generalisation of such a condition). This attack, if revolution continues as a chain reaction, as a revolution within revolution, will lead to their abolition as value, it will de-capitalise them. The attack on banks in which proletarians have their money is what will necessarily open up the issue of how life without money can continue, and it will not be a decision to abolish money. The attack on police stations will open up the question of arming the revolution to face the consequences of its actions. The attack on shops and the looting of commodities will pose the issue of non-exchange and non-distribution at a nascent level, for a short but critical period. The continuation of the struggle in public space, the inability to go home, will open up the issue of gender. The occupation of the means of production and the destruction of some of them will raise the issue of how to reproduce life as a whole. If communising insurgents sway with them a large section of society, through a conflictual process of course, into the implementation of communising measures, only then will the revolution be able to move on. What is most important: only if all of these things happen together and not separately, only if they occur in parallel on several fronts and not centrally, will the revolution as communisation take place.
To say that the revolution is communisation means that communism is not only its aim and end result, but also its content. Capital is not abolished for communism but by communism, or, more precisely, by the production of communism. Communising measures are not an embryonic form of communism but the production of communism. Communisation is not a transitional period, but the revolution itself, which is the communising production of communism. What distinguishes communising measures from communism is the struggle against capital.
The historicity of the content of the revolution and of communism. The revolution was not always communisation. Something that maybe appears as a tautology but has to be pointed out is the fact that capital is a moving contradiction; the restructuring of the capitalist mode of production as counter-revolution restructured the content of communism as well. One can say: Well, why is this just happening today? Weren’t prior revolutions communist as well? The response, without a doubt, is of course: Yes, they were communist but with a different content. The content of communism is something that changes, because communism is the living movement that is produced by the historical present of capital’s contradiction, it is not an order of things that is already known and must be established, not an ideal to which reality must conform. The fact that the revolution of ’17, ’36 and a little more contradictorily ’68, had as its centre the workers’ identity, and as its aim the triumph of the working class, the workers taking society unto their hands, not abolishing it as such; the fact that their revolution was to build their state or their workers’ councils, that is to manage production as a class, is not some kind of mistake of theirs. It was the revolution of their time, this was what was then produced as the abolition of capital, there could not be something else, and that revolution was defeated.
Why is it that the revolution historically produced in the current period has this specific content, that of communisation? Sic says that this content is produced by the development of the class struggle within restructured capitalism. So it accepts that there has been a restructuring of the class struggle with the crisis of fordism/keynesianism and a new cycle of struggles began. What Sic does is look for the ways in which the revolution is produced in this new cycle of struggles, that is, how the revolution is prefigured in today’s struggles as the overcoming of their limits; how from today’s form of struggles this content is produced, and why this content takes this form in the process of its production.
According to Sic there are some basic characteristics of the current cycle of struggles, which are intensified as it develops: The first is the decline, to the point of extinction today, of the workers’ identity. There is no longer any prospect on the basis of any workers’ identity. This, however, is the revolutionary dynamic of present struggles, which in several cases brings to the surface the drastic refusal of the proletarian condition (struggles without demands, and struggles with demands that develop into violent conflicts without a prospect of a compromise).
Sic agrees that communisation is prefigured within today’s struggles, as the overcoming of their limits, and that the struggle of the proletariat as a class is at the same time the limit of the class struggle, or, expressed from another point of view, that the reproduction of the capitalist mode of production becomes a question of coercion and discipline (class belonging becomes an external constraint). The limits of the movement are perceived as integral to it, as its defining elements; the limit is not merely something that surrounds the movement, a border that the movement has not crossed (“it did not move further, to communisation, while the subject of communisation has been formed as such”). The limit is perceived as a defining element of that which becomes a limit – the movement itself. Limits are not coincidental, the dynamic of the movement up to today is its limit. (e.g. the dynamic of the riots in Greece, the UK and France: we are fighting against all that makes us members of this society, and in this way our practices are distinguished by the practices of the rest of the proletariat. This non-expansion of the practices defines their dynamic and at the same time their limit).
In this problematic of the revolution as an overcoming of the limits of contemporary class struggle, that is, its overcoming as class struggle, the proletariat finds it social definition, the limit that it must overcome; proletarians do not have a role as individuals which is imposed on them and oppresses their human-proletarian nature. In making the revolution, the proletariat destroys itself as such.
As a result of this conception of the revolution, Sic participants also share the critique of the revolution as the construction of a “proletarian community” – one that usually comes embellished with a large dose of humanism.
Finally, for all these reasons, for Sic participants the revolution of our time cannot be any form of workers’ power or established workers’ management (the abolition of the state and the establishment of workers’ councils or self-management), or collectivisation. Communisation will not be the reappropriation of individual capitals by proletarians; proletarians do not reappropriate anything, they do not reappropriate the means of production; they change them and they break down the distinction between production and reproduction. Communisation is not a struggle for the reappropriation of the “commons”. There are also no communisation structures today. Occupations, squats, meeting places like this one are very important centres of struggle, and today their importance will increase all the more in the crisis, but they are not small communised territories that will expand and take over with the revolution.
Open questions for Sic participants which they are still discussing and on which they focus their critique:
- The periodisation of the capitalist mode of production and its importance.
- The analysis of the gender relation within the problematic of current class struggles and communisation.
- The delegitimation of wage and other demands in present class struggles, which brings back, in a different way than in the ‘70s, wage struggles to the centre of the contradiction between capital and labour.
- The theory of the rift (ecart, swerve, απόκλιση). Us, in Blaumachen, use the term rift as the internal distance between proletarian practices. We attach a definition of the term that came from an internal written discussion:
The concept of the “rift” contains three moments: The notion of distance, that of movement, and that of internality. Distance to the extent that it is about activities that can differentiate and come against each other. Movement to the extent that it is not about things that are independent from each other and merely coexist in the same space, but rather about the critical self-reflection of class activity. This takes us to the third hue of the concept: a movement and distance that is internal to the activity of proletarians as a class. These are two sides of the same class activity (that capital is the only horizon / that the proletariat is in contradiction with its own reproduction as a class) – the rift is the duality that becomes visible as a constraint, within capital, for the existence of the proletariat as a class. The rift between practices of different struggles and between practices within every specific struggle produces, in our cycle of struggles, class belonging as an external constraint, and the culmination of this cycle of struggle (for us as a rupture with class belonging itself, the revolution as communisation). As everything within capitalism, the process that produces the revolution will have its essential fetishistic forms. Fetishism is used here in a Marxian sense, that is, it is not a mere surface but a necessary form, without which the content cannot exist. The interesting element is that this process, if we are right that the content of revolution is communisation, will take a multitude of forms, almost as many as the forms of the social contradictions within capitalism. This means that, as has been the case in all the revolutions of the past, there will be conflicts within the proletariat, but now, through them, the revolution will be produced. In this period we see the production of these conflicts, internal distances, rifts, created within practices of struggle. If the generalisation of rifts, however, produces a new kind of “unity” of practices, this will not be the old class unity, but a multitude of practices that will objectively establish camps within the fighting proletariat, which will however be unable to crystallise (lest the revolution be defeated) into particular political forms; they will be volatile by definition, precisely because for the “communisation camp” there won’t be an “ending”. Communisation will be a process that will break the clots that tend to appear and obstruct the flow between social individuals; it will keep “communism” alive, making it “more communist”.